Hello, people of the internet!
I have mentioned before, in my I am the Reader post, that I’m not a huge fan of romance books, but that I’m keeping an open mind. Well, thanks to The Little Contemporary Corner‘s Christmas Read-Along, I picked up My True Love Gave to Me. This is a collection of twelve, romantic short stories by various authors based around winter, Christmas and other holidays during this time of year. I felt I had a good chance of getting a better look at the romance genre with short stories and seeing if this genre is really the genre for me.
What did I think of it? Well, here’s how I’m going to conduct this review: with a Top 12 List. I felt that this book is a mixed bag. There were some stories I thought were kind of ‘meh’, others I felt could have been better, and others I fell in love with. So, I thought what better way to explain these stories and how I feel about them then with a Top 12 list? I mean, I have thought of other ways, but I prefer the Top 12 idea.
Now, enough about me and my book reviewing strategies, here is my Top 12 Stories from My True Love Gave to Me.
12) The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link
Now, I’ll start off by saying that I do not dislike this story. I do like the idea of the story; it reminds me of traditional fairy tales, but goes a different direction by using a modern day setting and is told from the point of view of a modern day character. However, I couldn’t connect with the characters, except for Fenwick (A.K.A the fox). I found him interesting and I wanted to learn about his past and how he ended up the way he is in the story. Instead the story focuses on the other non-magical characters and the modern day setting, and even though it’s different, it doesn’t quite work. I’m afraid I couldn’t get into it as much as I had hoped.
11) Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han
I do like what I got from this story. I like the characters and its setting in the North Pole did feel very Christmassy. However, it’s left me wanting a lot more. To me, it felt like it just got started and was about to continue rolling into more plot and character development when it suddenly ended. When I turned the page and found the beginning of It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown, I actually thought I accidently skipped a page. It is a good story, but it didn’t feel like a complete story to me.
10) Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter
The one thing I have learnt when reading stories is the ‘suspension of disbelief’, in that I learn to ignore certain features of stories that would definitely or very unlikely happen in real life if the story, especially the ending, was worth it. I felt I had to suspend a lot of disbelief with this story and I couldn’t ignored its plot holes. I did enjoy most of the characters and I did find myself wanting to read more in order to discover the mysterious motives of the main character. Again, this isn’t a story I dislike, but with its plot holes, I couldn’t connect with it emotionally.
9) Krampuslauf by Holly Black
First of all, I really liked the concept. I haven’t read anything with Krampus in it before and I did enjoy reading the story itself. The characters were fun and I did like how the narration was written; I could get a strong idea about the main character’s personality. However, I personally don’t find it romantic. Maybe I missed it, but I don’t remember there being a romance at all. There was kissing and such, but I’m sure there wasn’t a falling in love element in there. If the romance part was about falling in love with magic, then yes, there was romance. But not between characters. Despite this, I do like this story, but it’s not the romantic story I was expecting to find in this book.
You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned the whole romantic, kissy, lovey-dovey element a lot yet. That’s because with the aforementioned stories, I couldn’t believe there was a romance there at all. With the stories I’m going to mention from now on, I did believe there was romance between the characters.
8) Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire
I did enjoy the characters in this one a lot. They weren’t too complex, but they weren’t too one-dimensional either; just enough for a short story. I liked the romance between the trouble-maker boy and the girl who’s willing to see the good in everybody. The only problem I have with this story is, again, I had to suspend disbelief too much. There’s only so much that can go wrong in one night and in quick succession. I’ll call that a nitpick, but I honestly found that a bit too distracting for me.
7) Angels in the Snow by Matt de la Peña
How this story was set up was something I am familiar with in other stories before (two people trapped in the same room/building trope-of-sorts) and I knew what was going to happen. However, what saved this story for me was its characters. I believed the growing romance between the two characters and I wanted to see them together. I felt they complemented each other well. I also really liked the ending. It was simple and sweet and I feel it was the perfect ending for this kind of story.
6) Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan
The only story in this book with a homosexual couple; and may I add a very cute couple at that. I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t read it, but after a very sombre moment, the ending when he comforts his partner is very heart-warming. It had its cute, mean, happy and sad moments and, though not a lot happens in it, I felt it was paced well between the emotions. It may not be one of the more magical stories in the book, but I still enjoyed it all the same.
5) It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins
I believe this is one of the longer stories in the book. Despite feeling like a long read to me – it was very slow-paced and I felt some parts dragged a little too long – I really enjoyed this story. I love the characters and, even if the whole romance itself feels a tad unrealistic, I wanted to see them together. With this story, I felt Christmassy and I could imagine the transformation from a dull flat to a lovely Christmassy space vividly.
4) What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman
For me, the best features about this story are the characters and their feelings’ towards the setting of the story, which is a university. I could believe that these main characters could in fact exist in the real world and how they would struggle in a university. Again, I knew what was going to happen and it didn’t offer any new surprises in a formulaic plot, yet it doesn’t ruin the story for me in any way. It works at it is and I love to see the two main characters together.
3) The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
This story is very reminiscent to traditional fairy tales (which I absolutely adore!) with an orphan lead character, an unwanted suitor and a magical love interest. It doesn’t offer anything new to the story and I knew where the story was going to go and whether or not the two main characters were going to get together. However, it’s written in a beautiful way and, though not a realistic romance, I wanted to see them together and for them to get their happy ending. A wonderful fairy tale.
2) Midnights by Rainbow Rowell
The perfect story is start this book off and the perfect story for the romance book-beginner such as myself. It was very cute and I absolutely adore the two main characters. They were fun and I felt they were meant to be together. I even found myself smiling whilst reading it! Again, there weren’t any surprises and I knew from the beginning that they were eventually going to get together, but despite knowing that, it still felt nice to actually read it when they did.
1) Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White
By far, the best story in the book for me! I initially thought I knew what was going to happen, but I found myself surprised by what actually happened. I felt it had a great moral of how to not judge people only by what you see. It changed from a sombre, angsty tone to a cheerful, magical tone, and did so in a smooth, well-paced manner. I felt the romance was perfect and it made me feel warm inside. I wanted the main character to be happy and never stopped rooting for her.
And that was my Top 12 Short Stories from the book My True Love Gave To Me. As I mentioned before, I preferred some stories more than others for various reasons. It’s still a good read and I would read it again next Christmas.
I’m still unsure about the romance genre overall, but I’m very glad to have read this book. It’s perfect for the everyday reader of romance and perfect for those who don’t.
If you have any thoughts about the book, (perhaps you thought differently about these stories?) feel free to let me know in the comments or on Twitter and/or Facebook!
Thank you for reading!